Colombia Security Threats

Data and information about security threats from Colombia’s black market. Intelligence data and other security information collected from government agencies, news reports and other public information sources.

In Febraury 2014, Interpol and Europol reported on global raids conducted against producers and sellers of counterfeit foods.

In total, over 1,200 tonnes of counterfeit and substandard food and nearly 430,000 liters of counterfeit beverages were seized across 33 countries. 96 people were arrested by various criminal justice programs during the investigation.

Highlights of the campaign against counterfeit foods:

  • Across Europe, over 131,000 liters of fake oil and vinegar , 80,000 counterfeit biscuits and chocolate bars, 20 tonnes of fake spices and condiments, and 45 tonnes of substandard dairy products were seized by Europol.
  • In Italy, 60,000 bottles and labels of fake champagne was seized.
  • Police in Thailand found over 270 bottles of fake whiskey.
  • $17.2 Million worth of counterfeit foods and drinks were seized in Colombia.

Source:  “Global police swoop seizes millions in fake food, drink,” Channel NewsAsia, February 14, 2014.

In 2012, an estimated $18 billion was lost to the Colombian government due to various types of money laundering activities, according to the Financial Information and Analysis Unit.

The amount of money lost in Colombia due to laundering was higher than the total amount of money that was invested into Colombia by foreign entities. According to the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, $15.2 Billion of foreign investment funds was directed to Colombia in 2012.

Colombia has a long history of money laundering due to its drug trafficking industry. When cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar was killed by Colombian security service agents in 1993, it was estimated that he had a $30 Billion in assets.

(Additional examples of money laundering cases worldwide.)

Source:  Ernesto Suarez Gomez, “The tangled web of money laundering,” Infosurhoy, January 7, 2014.

Criminal justice programs across Colombia report that synthetic drugs are more popular with users that traditional forms of illegal drugs.

In the capital of Bogota, synthetic drugs are used more often than marijuana, cocaine and heroin, according to the National Police of Colombia. A study conducted in 2013 found that there were 130 points of sale in Bogota where synthetic drugs were available for purchase.

Over 45 different types of synthetic drugs are available for users in Bogota. These pills are sold by drug dealers at a wide range of prices, depending on the substance and the time of day. The reported price for a single pill of a synthetic drugs range from $5.19 to $51.90 (10,000 to 100,000 Colombian Pesos).

In comparison, the price for a single hit of Punto Rojo marijuana in Bogota is $1 (2,000 Pesos), and a single gram of low-grade cocaine is $5.19 (10,000 Pesos).

(Cocaine prices by gram.)

Source:  Santiago Wills, “Synthetic drugs a new plague in Colombia,” Infosurhoy, December 27, 2013.


Gangs operating in the Colombian city of Medellin manage an underage human trafficking syndicate where the virginity of a child is auctioned off to the highest bidder.

According to investigations conducted by a non-governmental organization, gang members recruit girls as young as ten to be a part of their organization. Although some girls are passed around by the gang members, some are offered up as virgins to international sex tourists who visit Colombia.

In an interview with Insight Crime, the researcher stated that gangs run online auctions where virgin girls are offered for sale to the highest bidder. Each online customer is issued a secret PIN number to access the site. Once logged in, the customer is able to view up to 60 girls that are available for purchase. Customers have bid up to $2,600 on the website. Once the auction is completed, the site is taken down and all pictures of the girls are destroyed.

In addition to the auctions, there has also been reports that virgin girls are offered by human traffickers to Colombian’s drug cartels and paramilitary officers. Once the head official and other officers or cartel members are done with the girl, she is sent away to become a street prostitute.

Many of the young girls who end up in these auctions disappear from society. According to the Mayor’s office, nearly 600 children have disappeared in 2013, with a majority of the children missing being girls. Data from various criminal justice departments state that the number of children missing has been increasing each year.

(More prices of human trafficking victims.)

Source:  James Bargent, “Children, Sex and Gangs in Medellin,” Insight Crime, December 16, 2013.

According to security services in Colombia, between 10 to 15 percent of the fuel used by drivers in Colombia was smuggled into the country.

Roughly one million gallons of gasoline is smuggled into the country each day, with 70 to 80 percent of the fuel coming from Venezuela. The remaining gas is smuggled into Colombia from Ecuador.

In Venezuela, a gallon of gasoline costs about 1 cent when using the black market exchange rate.

Source:  Matthew Bristow and Andrew Willis, “Cocaine for Venezuela Fuel Tankers Irks Colombia Tax Boss,” Bloomberg, December 2, 2013.

The director of the Tax and Customs enforcement agency in Colombia stated that the profit margin for criminals selling counterfeit drugs is between 500 to 1,000 percent. For example, a fake Viagra pill that costs $1 to manufacture can be sold for $5 to $10.

Intelligence analysts state that cost of the counterfeit drugs being sold in Colombia was manufactured in Ecuador, Panama, Peru and Venezuela.

From 2012 to the middle of 2013, the various agencies of the criminal justice system in Colombia seized over 5 million fake and contraband drugs. These medicines included drugs past its expiration date, drugs that were falsely labeled, and other drugs filled with flour or cement.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that 30 percent of the drugs sold across Latin America are counterfeits.

Source:  Natalie Southwick, “Colombia Pharmaceutical Trafficking ‘Has 1,000% Profits Margins’,” Insight Crime, October 28, 2013.

A mother in Colombia was arrested for selling the virginity of her 12 daughters to men who paid $200.

The 45 year old mother reportedly contacted men each time one of her daughters turned 12. She would have the men pay $200, and then force the girl to continue working as a prostitute in order to help the family pay its bills.

Source:  “Margarita de Jesus Zapata Moreno accused of selling virginities of 12 daughters for $200 each,” News.Com.Au, October 25, 2013.

Additional prostitution stats and prices available in our ebook:

The United States Department of Justice arrested 3 men who were organized as a contract killing group that was planning to kill a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent and an informant.

Two of the men were former soldiers in the United States Army and the third man served in the German Army. All three men had military training as a sniper.

According to court documents, the men were to be paid $700,000 to kill a DEA agent and an informant, with an additional $100,000 paid out to the organizer of the hit.  The plan assassination was part of a larger deal where cocaine from Colombia would be trafficked into the United States. The drug traffickers who were negotiating with the contract killers were confidential sources for the DEA.

In a previous case, a US soldier working for a drug cartel in Mexico was paid $5,000 to kill an informant in Texas.

(Price to hire a hitman on the black market.)

Source:  Michael Winter, “2 U.S. Army vets accused of plot to kill DEA agent,” USA Today, September 27, 2013.

Intelligence from security agencies  across Colombia estimate that nearly 150 different organized crime gangs  earn over $100,000 a month from various micro-exortion demands. In total, the amount of extortion money that gangs earn per year is over $1 Billion.

The gangs target various working professionals at a small rate. Media reports from Colombia state that teachers were paying $7.90 a month in micro-extortions to gangs in order to work. Bicycle taxis operating in Bogota must pay $1.50 per day.

In the town of Narino, security officials claim that 1,300 businesses were forced to shut down due to extortion attempts between 2011 and 2013.

(More illegal ways to make money.)

Source:  Natalie Southwick, “Colombia Micro-Extortion Targets Teachers, Bicycle Taxi Drivers,” Insight Crime, September 23, 2013.

64,507 wildlife animals was seized by criminal justice agencies in Colombia as they were being trafficked across the country.

59 percent of the trafficked animals seized were reptiles, 16 percent were birds, 5 percent were mammals, and the remaining 20 percent were other types of species.

In an example of the illegal wildlife trade in Colombia, a sloth is sold on the black market for $30.

(Prices of exotic animals for sale worldwide.)

Source:  Sylvia Zárate, “Colombia: Canine squad combats wildlife trafficking,” Infosurhoy, September 19, 2013.